OBJECTIVE: Cryptococcus neoformans infections of the central nervous system affect up to ten percent of AIDS patients. Standard therapy with amphotericin B with or without 5-flucytosine has a high rate of failure, relapse, and toxicity. Fluconazole is a new triazole antifungal agent available in both oral and intravenous forms that has shown efficacy in the primary and maintenance treatment of cryptococcal meningitis in AIDS patients. In this open, noncomparative trial, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of intravenous fluconazole followed by oral fluconazole in the treatment of acute cryptococcal meningitis in AIDS patients. METHODS: Thirteen AIDS patients with acute cryptococcal meningitis, or relapse after successful primary therapy, received 400 mg of intravenous fluconazole daily for 12-16 days followed by oral fluconazole 400 mg/d for the duration of primary therapy. If cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cultures converted to negative within 32 weeks of treatment, the fluconazole dose was decreased to 200 mg/d as maintenance therapy. RESULTS: Fluconazole therapy was successful in six patients (46 percent) and unsuccessful in seven (54 percent). Of the seven patients considered unsuccessful, one demonstrated clinical improvement but remained CSF-culture positive, five were clinical failures and were switched to amphotericin B therapy, and one died after two weeks secondary to cryptococcal meningitis. No patient experienced any adverse reactions necessitating discontinuation of therapy. CONCLUSIONS: In this small group of patients, moderate doses of parenteral and oral fluconazole for acute cryptococcal meningitis in AIDS patients demonstrated failure rates similar to those reported in other studies with fluconazole and with amphotericin B. As there was no difference in initial Karnofsky scores or the severity of disease in treatment successes versus failures, it is difficult to determine who might respond to fluconazole as initial therapy or who should be treated initially with another agent. Further studies and clinical experience are needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)